That was fast. First, Plug Power [Nasdaq: PLUG] raises around USD 840 million issuing new shares at USD 22.25 apiece. A felt five minutes later, the company is offered a USD 1 billion bought deal, perfectly exploiting the stock surge to collect massive capital. Plug must now have over USD 1.7 billion in the bank, thanks to the company’s growth prospects targeting hydrogen.
The hammer fell on Nov. 30, 2020. General Motors will not buy into Nikola. But according to the new memorandum of understanding, GM still wants to work with Nikola on battery and fuel cell technology. Consequently, the Badger pickup truck will not emerge from GM’s assembly line as planned. And the originally projected USD 2 billion investment is also rendered moot. As a result, Nikola stock plummeted.
At the age of 67, Stephan Kohler’s passing in late October last year came as quite a surprise. His death was reported by the German Zukunft Erdgas industry initiative, on whose supervisory board Kohler had been since 2018. Many politicians and business leaders remember Kohler as a passionate fighter for climate action. Zukunft Erdgas chairman Timm Kehler said: “Stephan Kohler was held in high esteem throughout the entire energy sector. His precise analyses and attention to detail were greatly respected and appreciated. […] We’ve lost a tremendous human being, a smart, passionate innovator and driving force for the energy revolution.”
At the end of 2020, Angelika Heinzel stepped down as chief executive of ZBT’s fuel cell technology center, a research institute she led for a total of 19 years. In March, she will also leave her professorship at Duisburg-Essen University’s Mechanical and Process Engineering department, and her leading scientific role at ZBT. As for her successor in the science department, the university is still in the hiring process.
It may seem contradictory, since joining an important market index is a very good thing, requiring funds to adjust their holdings. In Tesla’s case, I see at least USD 8 billion would have to be invested through them. I tend to doubt this will automatically lead to a massive increase in valuation. Index funds may already have positions based on a variety of investment vehicles, such as options that can be turned into shares without any relevant influence on the price. Perhaps out of pure contrariness, the stock could turn sour when things are looking their best because analysts, investors and the media see only rising prices, completely ignoring the risks.
FuelCell Energy’s quarterly results weren’t the reason for the year-end price surge from around USD 2 to over USD 11. At times, more than 200 million trades were concluded in one day, which exceeds the total shares outstanding. I believe we’re witnessing the impact of high-frequency or day trades or swarm-like investor activity via, e.g., Robinhood. Right before the rally, Heights Capital Management reported the purchase of 19 million FuelCell shares, giving the private equity firm a 6.7 percent stake in the fuel cell business.
Thinking sustainably about energy and agriculture
What a year we’ve had. Rarely has so much, in such a short time, changed in the energy sector, particularly for the hydrogen industry. For starters, we have witnessed the arrival of a national hydrogen strategy, council and office, a European Green Deal, a European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, RED II and the IPCEI Hydrogen, as well as revisions to the German EEG.
One woman retires, another takes her place: On Oct. 1, 2020, Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, was appointed chairwoman of the German Aerospace Center, DLR. A materials scientist and engineer, she took over for Pascale Ehrenfreund, who had held the position since August 2015. Kaysser-Pyzalla said she is looking forward to “leading such a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary organization.” In addition to developing aviation and aerospace technology, the DLR focuses on research into energy, transportation, safety and security, and digitalization solutions. More than 9,000 people work for a total of 51 DLR institutes at 30 locations in Germany.
In mid-November 2020, diesel and gas engine maker Cummins, which has more than 6,700 employees in Europe, announced plans to erect a production site above Germany’s defunct Ewald mine in Herten. The decision was not surprising. Hydrogenics Germany lies a mere 20 kilometers west of Herten, and Cummins acquired parent company Hydrogenics Corp. in September 2019.
As third-quarter results faded in the rear-view mirror, Bloom Energy stock rebounded with a vengeance following a temporary slump. Natural disasters, including storms and floods, prevented the completion of 41 projects, pushing revenue below the anticipated USD 225 million to USD 200 million, And yet, the company’s USD 12 million in the red means Bloom [NYSE: BE] performed much better than expected. The net loss was “only” USD 0.09 per share instead of USD 0.16 and including non-recurring revenues, that loss shrank to as little as USD 0.04 a share.